Thank you, Dr. Mouser for continuing this tradition and for inviting me to speak today.
Good Morning members of the Board, cabinet, administrators, guests, and faculty and staff.
On Friday, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to help welcome our new teachers and clinicians to the district. I told them how glad I was to have them here in what is the education equivalent of a sellers market. I am equally glad to see all of you here today. Thank you for being here. As I told them and I have told you before, this place matters to me, and I want us to be the very best that we can be.
While focusing my thoughts for what I wanted to say to you today, I reread last year’s speech. It was a good speech. I talked about how proud I was of what we had managed to accomplish the year before, that we had built relationships and facilitated learning in a year unlike any other we had seen. I remarked how great it would be to start a year without Zoom teaching. We knew there would be new challenges, but how bad could it be.
By Thanksgiving, though, I was telling people that we knew the year would be challenging, but that no one seemed prepared for how challenging it would be. Yeah, last year was rough.
Yet, there were moments when we were successful. We still built relationships with kids, they still learned. And I know that I learned an awful lot; I suspect you did, too.
One of my favorite notions came from Elena Aguilar’s wonderful book Onward . She asks us to pay attention to the stories we tell. She asks us to control the narrative and the way we interpret events by telling empowering stories. She states, “you make the choice about the story to tell. When telling empowering stories, your optimism may expand.”
So this year, I choose optimism. I choose hope. I choose to believe that we can and do and will make a difference in the lives of our students.
Now choosing optimism doesn’t mean sticking our heads in the sand. It doesn’t mean we stop identifying and trying to solve problems. It doesn’t mean we stop advocating for changes we need or the conditions that we expect. I will advocate for us and push back when it’s needed.
But optimism might allow us to collaborate instead of simply fighting. I just don’t think we have to be mad all the time. We are more resilient than that.
I believe in public education.
I believe in District 87.
I believe in you.
Thank you for all you do for kids and each other; have a great year.